Industry Expert: Formation Studio cofounders on dancing your way to a healthy lifestyle

The local husband-and-wife duo share tips on sweating it out at fitness classes

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      After Saschie MacLean-Magbanua lost her younger sister, Chantal Yvonne, in a fatal car accident in 2014, there wasn’t much that could get her off the couch during a dark period of grief.

      That changed when she saw a friend teach a dance class to a Beyoncé song. After she’d joined a few of those sweat sessions, it was clear to MacLean-Magbanua that dancing was a great form of relief and escape, and she proceeded to organize some classes for a couple of friends.

      This led to the creation of RSVP33, which evolved into the newly opened Formation Studio (16 East 5th Avenue), a dance-based group fitness studio that she runs with her husband and business partner, Roman Magbanua.

      “That feeling of tranquillity, escape, and just being able to shut everything out was such an important piece of it. Wellness, no matter what your capability, requires that mental element,” MacLean-Magbanua told the Straight in an interview.

      Her other half believes it’s important to have a happy state of mind to tackle things in life, and that can start off by joining something that makes you feel good internally.

      “You can work out and do all these things, but if you’re not happy, it’s hard to get your goals in order,” said Magbanua. “We play probably your favourite songs and teach cool moves, so you’re getting all the good feelings from multiple sources here.”

      Both still have their daytime jobs, and juggling their new project hasn’t been easy. But when you have a dream and it becomes a reality, sleepless nights and accidental meal-skipping can be worth it. Here are some of their tips and insights for those who love fitness classes and working out.


      Best thing about opening a dance studio

      S: Seeing how happy people are to have a space where they feel like they belong.

      R: Being able to dance with everybody.


      Best warm-up to do before a dance class

      R: Just put on your favourite track to listen to on your way here, because we run a warm-up, and most dance classes do their own warm-up. I would just say get yourself prepared mentally as opposed to physically.

      S: I agree.


      Best snack to fuel up on before a fitness class

      S: I would say nothing too heavy, in case you’re really exerting yourself.

      R: Banana or apple. Bananas are rich in vitamins and natural sugars and give you the energy.


      Marutama's tamago ramen.
      Tammy Kwan

      Best food to eat after a great workout

      S and R: Ramen. Specifically, the mild tamago ramen at Marutama, with extra-hard noodles.


      Best way to mentally prepare for a sweat session

      S: To know you’re going to push yourself, and wherever you end up is going to be a good place to be.

      R: I tell myself it’s going to be okay. No matter the outcome, no matter where I get to.


      Best spot to pick up workout attire

      S: At Formation Studio, we’re going to be carrying Girlfriend Collective, which is a Seattle-based brand that uses all recyclable material for their leggings and has very size-inclusive marketing. I still have a lot of love for lululemon, RYU, and all those other good spots.

      R: I love OCIN. It’s mostly swimwear, but their shorts are really great for working out.


      Best song to dance to

      S: It changes all the time, but my go-to is “Formation” by Beyoncé. It’s so cheesy: my studio is called Formation and I’m going to say “Formation” is my favourite song.

      R: “Drogba (Joanna)” by Afro B. It makes me feel good.


      Best fitness studio that isn’t Formation Studio

      S: I love Ride [Cycle Club], Hustle, and Tight Club [Athletics].

      R: I don’t really go anywhere, but the last place I went to was Hustle, so I’m going to say Hustle. But being part of this community, it makes me want to support and go to more studios around us.